Ngāti Porou iwi-led model for children's care applauded

By Tema Hemi

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft applauds the Ngāti Porou people for taking ownership of their descendants in state care. This comes after Ngāti Porou presented a report into its iwi-led model of care to the Children's Commissioner and the Ministry of Social Development. 

"We've never had a better opportunity than now and I say that because the law makes crystal clear that the obligation is on the Crown - Oranga Tamariki, the Treaty partner - to develop initiatives of partnership, of delegation and of providing resources," Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says. 

"So I think the starting point will be for Oranga Tamariki to be knocking on iwi doors around the country to say we now have an obligation."

At the end of June 2019, there were a total of 6,429 children in state care and of that number 4,420 were Māori. Māori children make up 25 per cent of all children in NZ, so the proportion of Māori in state care reveals a considerable inequity.

"In a wider context, if you go back to 1989 a revolution was envisaged then in state care for children, particularly Māori children. Really it envisaged a by Māori for Māori approach," Becroft says.  "This document echoes exactly the thinking and the vision way back in 1989 and before."

Commissioner Becroft says it is a foundation for practical change.

"This is a blueprint and it's an exciting blueprint, and it's an achievable blueprint. And it's giving life to a vision that actually has been dormant, sadly, for about 30 years. So I think this is an exciting way forward." 

An official report from the Children's Commissioner, which will highlight reports from Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi and others on Oranga Tamariki processes, will be released mid-February.